Tourism

What is the story?

Tourism is a $14 billion a year business in North Carolina, employing over 180,000. Over 60 million people explore our historical and natural assets in the state each year.

After agriculture and forestry, tourism is the most important economic engine, providing $2 billion a year in taxes from direct and indirect spending, half of which goes to the Federal tax base and the other half to State and local taxes.  

Tourism demands little in the way of additional permanent services, such as fire departments, water, schools, and police.

With few demands on service costs or resources yet producing large state funds, tourism is vital to revenue income in North Carolina.

Did you know?

Did you know that North Carolina is the 8th most visited state in the country?

Where are we now?

Although the mountains and the coast generate the most tourist activity, the industry is growing in the center of the State, too. The Piedmont (or Heartland) offers many historical, cultural, and natural resources as attractions. In the mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway and nearby areas see over 12 million visitors a year.

Did you know?

The Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country!

Tourism provides people in rural areas with opportunities where development of other industries is usually limited.

The future of tourism in our state depends on our ability to protect our large landscapes, our wild places, country lanes, small towns, traditional farming, forestry practices, and the presentation and promotion of our history and culture.

How does this affect me?

Cultural tourism is the fastest growing, passive form of outdoor recreation in the country. About two-thirds of the population consistently indicate in surveys their interest in access to the outdoors and to our country life and history. They want authentic experiences.

We provide great locations for the following interests:

  • Cycling is the fastest-growing active recreation. North Carolina offers opportunities to explore country lanes and trailways.
  • Birdwatching is the fastest growing passive nature-based activity.
  • Walking and water sports figure prominently in any survey of desired recreational activities.

Tourism ties closely to how we use our land, the need for well-designed and carefully placed development, and the protection and presentation of sites of historical and cultural interests. Anything that compromises these assets potentially compromises a major source for sustainable long-term revenue and jobs.

What can I do?

  1. Encourage tourism.
  2. Help maintain our landscapes, both natural and working (farming and forestry). Help maintain our historical sites and structures.
  3. Support tourism by traveling to these places and events yourself.